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New Evidence from Bourke

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Compelling new evidence released on 8th October 2018 from Bourke, NSW, demonstrates how the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project, the largest of its kind in Australia, is builder safer, stronger communities.

The initiative, developed in 2013 when members of the Bourke Aboriginal community approached Just Reinvest NSW with an interest in adopting a community-led justice reinvestment approach. A community strategy for change was developed, ‘Growing Our Kids Up – Safe, Smart, Strong’, and implementation commenced in 2015. The Project is directed and guided by the Bourke Tribal Council and a ‘backbone’ team works with existing services to work collectively to develop and implement local solutions.

Newly released statistics demonstrate the following changes in Bourke between 2015 and 2017:

  • 18% reduction in the number of major offences reported
  • 34% reduction in the number of non-domestic violence related assaults reported
  • 39% reduction in the number of domestic violence related assaults reported
  • 39% reduction in the number of people proceeded against for drug offences.
  • 35% reduction in the number of people proceeded against for driving offences.

Sarah Hopkins, Chair of Just Reinvest NSW, has stated that “Over previous decades, we have seen the imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children increasing dramatically. The experience in Bourke demonstrates that the solutions to this national crisis lie in community-led initiatives like justice reinvestment that support communities to develop local solutions.”

Re-offending has also decreased, with the following changes observed between 2014 and 2016:

  • 8% reduction in the overall rate of re-offending with a new offence within 12 months of release
  • 15% reduction in the rate of domestic violence re-offending among domestic violence offenders (aged 18-25)
  • 48% reduction in the rate of domestic violence re-offending among domestic violence offenders (aged 26 and over).

For children and young people (10-25 year old’s) the following changes have occurred:

  • 14% reduction in the rate of re-offending with a new offence within 12 months of release (2014 t0 2016)
  • 12% reduction in the total number of young people proceeded against for offences from 2015 to 2017
  • 38% reduction in number of young people (up to 25 years) proceeded against for driving offences from 2015 to 2017
  • 43% reduction in number of young people proceeded against for breaches of Apprehended Violence Orders from 2015 to 2017
  • 43% reduction in number of young people proceeded against for domestic violence related assault from 2015 to 2017.

A driver licensing program, a key initiative under the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project has produced particularly encouraging results.

  • 236 people have obtained their driving licenses
  • 72% reduction in the number of young people (up to 25 years) proceeded against for driving without a licence from 2015 to 2017.

Alistair Ferguson, Executive Director of Maranguka in Bourke, has said that “The emerging evidence is confirming what we in the community already know – that justice reinvestment initiatives build local capacity and empower our community to develop local solutions to our local issues.”

Just Reinvest NSW is calling on the Federal and NSW Governments to invest in new community-led justice reinvestment initiatives and to provide funding for the establishment of an independent body to support those communities.

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